September 7, 2016
Contact PDA: (717) 234-5941

The Importance of Flossing as Key to Good Oral Health

The topic of flossing has attracted extensive attention over the past few weeks, as multiple news sources have questioned whether the practice is essential to oral health. The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) and American Dental Association (ADA) continue to stress the importance of flossing.

The controversy began when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not include flossing in the 2015 federal dietary guidelines, when it had previously been listed in years past. The Associated Press mentioned this omission in an August news story that questioned the benefits of flossing. While HHS did release a follow up statement confirming the importance of brushing and flossing, some media have written stories that might give the public doubts.

PDA and ADA dentists know their patients’ oral health status and history and will continue to remind patients why flossing needs to be part of their daily routine.

“While current guidelines don’t include flossing, that doesn't mean you should stop. Most cavities start between teeth and not on the surfaces that a toothbrush contacts. The only way to remove this debris is by flossing,” said Dr. Bruce Terry, a PDA member practicing in Wayne. “Over the past several decades the dental condition of most adults has improved due to proper home care and regular dental visits. This is not the time to start skipping the easiest and cheapest things you can do to maintain your dental health.”

Tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth and along the gum line. It’s important to remember that brushing teeth alone is not effective enough to remove plaque. Cleaning between the teeth with interdental cleaners, such as floss, is essential to removing plaque. Whether you use floss or another interdental cleaner (such as a dental pick), it is important to consult with your dentist about the proper technique so it is effective.

Remember, a combination of bushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between the teeth with an interdental cleaner, eating a balanced diet, and visiting your PDA member dentist regularly for a professional cleaning is the best way to maintain good oral health. 

To find out more about flossing and other interdental cleaners, please visit

About the Pennsylvania Dental Association
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA’s mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. Learn more about PDA.